An aerial view of forests.
Aerial View of Romanian Forest The road that leads to Saint Ana lake in Transylvania, Romania. © Calin-Andrei Stan /TNC Photo Contest 2018


The European ‘Business Case’ for Nature Restoration

Let’s be clear – the value and benefits of healthy natural ecosystems are priceless.

Headshot of Noor Yafai.
Noor Yafai Europe Director, Global Policy and Institutional Partnerships


From businesses large and small, to landowners and farmers, innovators, public sector authorities and citizens of every EU Member State, all our different ways of life – and ultimately our collective survival – depends on the stability of the natural, life-sustaining systems all around us.

These natural systems are themselves under threat from climate change whilst also serving as our first and last lines of defence against the worst effects of climate change, such as droughts, flooding, crop failures, wildfires and heatwaves.

So whether we are talking about protecting precious pollinators for food crops, maintaining safe and secure freshwater supplies, combatting city heatwaves through urban greening or deploying nature’s own solutions to defend coastal communities from rising sea-levels and erosion, it is clear that restoring nature is not optional.

A bee flies toward a flower.
Precious pollinators A bee inspects a pollinator meadow in Berlin, Germany. Hundreds of wild bee species call the city's green spaces home. © Jen Guyton

As the first European climate risk assessment has revealed, Europe is not prepared for the mounting climate risks our continent faces. If we further delay the opportunity to restore our ecosystem lifelines and natural defenses, these threats to businesses and citizens will only worsen and the costs for European taxpayers will only skyrocket.

The growing list of warnings from highly respected institutions and organisations is sobering. The European Central Bank has warned that the economy and banks need nature to survive. A landmark study by De Nederlandsche Bank found that Dutch financial institutions alone have €510 billion in exposures to biodiversity risks.

Norway demonstrated international leadership by launching the first-ever expert commission on nature risk by Royal decree, (at the event organized by TNC and the Mission of Norway to the EU in Brussels). Earlier this year, Norges Bank Investment Management, which oversees Norway’s $1.4 trillion sovereign wealth fund, published new analysis which highlights ‘very high’ nature risks across its portfolio and warns against allowing loss or degradation of nature’s assets.


If we further delay the opportunity to restore our ecosystem lifelines and natural defenses, these threats to businesses and citizens will only worsen and the costs for European taxpayers will only skyrocket.

Science is telling us that natural climate solutions to protect, better manage, and restore forests, grasslands and wetlands could contribute around a third of the cost-effective emissions reductions needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

And across the European Union, both civil society and industry are overwhelmingly aligned in their joint support for the Nature Restoration Law. Countless business and corporate sector groups have publicly voiced their support – from power sector and renewable energy investors represented by major associations like Eurelectric, WindEurope and SolarPower Europe to the fifteen business and investor networks collectively representing thousands of businesses contributing trillions of Euros towards Europe’s economy.

Regarding agriculture, it’s become too easy to think that a few of the most vocal lobbyists accurately represent the interests of European farmers and landowners on nature restoration when in reality they do not. For example, the Forum for the Future of Agriculture, which includes the European Landowners Organisation representing over one million farmers and landowners across Europe, publicly voiced its support for the Nature Restoration Law in its 2023 Call to Action, highlighting that Europe does not currently have a food security problem but faces very serious risks, with access to healthy and affordable food, biodiversity loss and extreme weather events foremost amongst them. They warned that differences of opinion on implementation “should not be used to stymie progress”.

An aerial view of sheep grazing in a field.
MAG21014 - Krupa River The Krupa River in Croatia winds through a karst canyon, but pockets of lush pasture—actually small alluvial plains—support grazing livestock like sheep. © Ciril Jazbec Copyrighted

Over one million citizens, hundreds of civil society groups and scientists and political parties have actively called for swift adoption of the Nature Restoration Law. Latest analysis of political parties’ manifestos for European elections reveals almost all have prioritized commitments to invest in nature. Healthy ecosystems aren’t just nice to have — continued degradation becomes a major human health issue.

So who is listening to these deafening scores of people from all across our societies and economy, who are collectively underlining the urgent societal and business cases for nature restoration?

The European Parliament, representing close to 450 million people, has done so, giving the democratic green light for Nature Restoration to pass over the finish line. The Parliament has recognised that over 80% of European habitats are in poor shape and countries must urgently introduce targets to restore nature.

However, now we see worrying signs that some governments are reacting to a cynical minority of lobbyists still trying to kill this vital law. Some lobbyists, who failed to win their arguments against nature on substance, have switched tactics to claim that financing is undecided, so this warrants delay. Yet this is another example of misinformation or at least misunderstanding. 

Birds feed on the seeds of sunflowers.
Brilliant biodiversity Without formal protection of nature, Europe faces serious risks including biodiversity loss and extreme weather events. © Mateusz Piesiak/TNC Photo Contest 2021

The investment case is abundantly clear and the latest text contains the tools to ensure that a solid range of sustainable financing measures can be further fleshed out within a year of the Law coming into force, based on evidence provided by Member States. Not all financing measures will need to rely on the public purse but can instead leverage large returns on investment for citizens and taxpayers. As scores of business supporters know, the Nature Restoration Law can unlock hundreds of millions of Euros of private financing for nature and biodiversity, which could become a game-changing example to the whole world.

Speaking of which, close to 200 countries (including our 27 EU Member States) committed to the new Global Biodiversity Framework – in a ‘Paris’ moment for nature. The world’s now watching what Europe will do. Are EU Member States going to act on the overwhelming societal and business case for nature and approve the Nature Restoration Law? How else can we expect other countries to meet globally-agreed climate and biodiversity targets, and save the world’s rainforests, coral reefs and other precious ecosystems if we cannot even act to look after our own?

The bottom-line in any business case is: do the benefits and value as well as the costs and risks of inaction clearly outweigh the investment needed to act and deliver? In the case for delivering the Nature Restoration Law, both the societal and business cases are crystal clear. We will soon know whether our leaders have made the right decision.

Originally posted on Euractiv

March 22, 2024

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Aerial of dense forest carved by a curving blue river.
Crooked Creek Mukwonago River, also known as Crooked Creek, winds through Lulu Lake Preserve and connects many of the lakes within the area. © Fauna Creative
Headshot of Noor Yafai.

Noor is the Europe Director, Global Policy and Institutional Partnerships for The Nature Conservancy. She provides strategic leadership and furthers TNC’s work through engagement with policymakers and institutions in Europe.

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